The 2023 Women’s World Cup hosting rights are sealed but with less than three years to go before kick-off, the hard work has only just begun for Australia and New Zealand.
The trans-Tasman bid beat Colombia 22-13 in FIFA Council voting on Friday to bring the World Cup to the region for the first time.
Matildas superstar and captain Sam Kerr led the chorus of celebrations – all too aware of the significance of the moment.
“WE DID IT. WE FREAKING DID IT,” Kerr posted on Twitter, followed by a video of her trademark backflip celebration.
Kiwi counterpart Ali Riley shared a tearful photo, captioned “I will never forget this moment” – then suggested she might join Kerr in a backflip.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who personally hit the phones to lobby ahead of the vote, and Australian counterpart Scott Morrison also relished the success.
“The 2023 event will be the largest, and no doubt the best, Women’s World Cup that has ever been staged,” Ardern and Morrison said in a joint statement.
“This tournament will further inspire our next generation and provide the platform for them to compete on the world stage.”
At FFA headquarters, the overwhelming feeling was relief, after a prolonged voting process.
“There’s a lot of relief actually – you never know how these processes are gonna turn out,” FFA chief executive James Johnson told Fox Sports.
“I’m very relieved and I’m very happy with the team and I hope this makes the Australian football community very happy.”
If Australia and New Zealand delivered a bid that simply couldn’t be denied, bringing that vision to reality in a short time period poses just as big a challenge.
The logistics of the tournament – arguably the biggest sporting event staged in Australasia since the 2000 Sydney Olympics – are extraordinary.
The first 32-team Women’s World Cup is expected to host 1.5 million fans and will be held across 12 cities and 13 stadiums.
Matches will be held in 12 cities with Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Launceston to be the Australian hosts.
Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin will host the New Zealand fixtures alongside Auckland.
“It starts Monday,” Johnson said.
“We get a weekend where we can enjoy, we can relax a little bit but (the work) starts Monday.”
Matildas Steph Catley, Lydia Williams and Alanna Kennedy, along with New Zealand defender Rebekah Stott were in the FFA offices when the host was announced.
“Three years is not a long time,” Williams told Fox Sports.
“It’s not a long time to prepare so we’re ready and raring to go.
“It’s lucky that Australia already has a lot of stadiums and fields and facilities built – so for us it’s how do we host the best tournament?
“But (for the Matildas), we’re already in it – a head start (on) the competition.”
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